KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Researchers Say Exclusive Licensing On Genes Could Hurt Patients

The Wall Street Journal reports that Duke University researchers have found in a study published Wednesday that granting "exclusive licenses on individual genes" could hurt patients' chances of pinpointing their risks to develop disease.

"A new genetic-testing technology called whole-genome sequence analysis promises to give individuals a global view of their genes. That could allow the identification of diseases they are most at risk for and a more personalized way to target drugs that might help them. But the Duke study suggests earlier generations of research, when companies and institutions staked claims to individual genes, might slow down wide adaptation of the new techniques." During the past 20 years, patents on genetic sequences have been issued to companies, universities and others, which they say are needed to raise the millions of dollars to advance knowledge on treatments and tests, but others aren't convinced. But some experts have said "existing patent law was hindering access to some tests" (Marcus, 4/15). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.